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‘Process was not easy’: Dennehotso Chapter secures a new truck with ARPA funds

‘Process was not easy’: Dennehotso Chapter secures a new truck with ARPA funds

By Jarvis Williams
Special to the Times

DENNEHOTSO, Ariz. – The 2024 550 Dodge Ram truck arrived on a Thursday in Dennehotso. The chapter manager had driven the truck back from Farmington.

There was no fanfare, no special escort for the new vehicle purchased with the American Rescue Plan Act monies from the Navajo Nation.

“The process was not easy. But we got it done,” Dennehotso Chapter Manager Maricelyn Smith-Williams said. She speaks of the Navajo Nation Fiscal Recovery Fund process established by the Navajo Nation government to help distribute federal dollars fairly to all 110 chapters. All 50 states and tribes received federal assistance and created processes to handle the federal funds. There were categories established to help communities decide how their projects would qualify.

In 2021, former President Jonathan Nez created an FRF Office by Executive Order 008-2021 that was organized to oversee the fiscal funds coming from the ARPA. The Navajo Nation Council approved the plan later that August.

Getting to work

The chapter’s new truck was requested to help transport heavy equipment to areas within the chapter. Smith-Williams said, “Community residents request the chapter to assist with road maintenance, and sometimes that can be miles from the chapter.

“So, the truck will be a big help because we can load the equipment on a trailer that our new truck can pull to the location,” she said. “That would help reduce maintenance costs for the heavy equipment.”

Smith-Williams worked with chapter officials to select the projects and gain support for the resolutions. This project is one of several projects that the chapter has submitted for completion.

The process can be lengthy for most chapters. According to Smith-Williams, all applicants have to be patient. For this project, Smith-Williams said she started with three quotes and then filled out the application, which she followed with a chapter resolution and numerous phone calls on the ARPA process.

“It is easy to get frustrated because it is a new process, but our persistence paid off,” Smith-Williams said, “it was truly a team effort.”

She said, “We had to work closely with our Council delegate and chapter officials because they are a big part of the process.

“Our fearless leader, Delegate (Shaandiin) Parrish, moved our projects through Council and to President Nygren’s desk.” Parrish represents Kayenta, Dennehotso, and Chilchinbeto.

Teamwork

Following the Council’s and the president’s approval, the project was given back to the chapter for the drafting of the Request for Proposals, or RFP. The FRF Office provided guidance and examples of RFPs.

“That part wasn’t too bad because I had my husband help me draft it. He can write,” Smith-Williams said.

Once the RFP was approved, the next step was advertising in the local papers. Additional bids were required to meet the Navajo Nation Procurement policy. To Smith-Williams, this part of the process seemed redundant and unnecessary since she had already obtained several quotes to get a price for the project.

Regardless, she continued with the process. After receiving sealed bids, a meeting was scheduled to open the bids and select one. The chapter officials and administration participated in the momentous meeting.

Navajo Nation’s Senior Program and Projects Specialist Calvin Tsosie also attended. He had guided the chapter administration.

Several weeks passed, and the money was deposited into the chapter account. A check was drafted for the purchase of the vehicle. “At the same time, I had to work with the Navajo Nation for vehicle insurance prior picking it up,” Smith-Williams said.

New truck

Finally, it was time to pick up the new vehicle. “That part was exciting,” Smith-Williams said. “I was relieved that all that hard work had paid off for the benefit of the Dennehotso community.

“But we still have the trailer that we have to purchase because that’s the second part of this project,” she said.

The truck was presented to the community at the recent chapter meeting. Residents had an opportunity to see the newest addition to the chapter fleet.

Chapter President Larry Tuni was happy with the arrival of the truck and very proud of the chapter administration.

Pictures were taken, congratulations were exchanged, and the chapter administration walked back into the office. They are moving on to the next project. Dennehotso Chapter is one of a handful of 110 chapters that have successfully navigated the Navajo Nation FRF process.


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